Adventures in the Great Outdoors, I

If you took the way that my husband (The Man Of The House, or TMOTH) and I grew up and compared them, you would see the reason why the two of us are vastly different. Unless we were at my grandparents’ farm, we didn’t do much outdoorsy stuff–camping, hiking, fishing, etc. My husband? was outside ALL THE TIME.

Ironically, my husband and I met on a camping trip–the weekend was the first time I’d ever stayed overnight in a tent.

While I’m still not an “outdoorsy” girl–I’d still rather be at home with my books and laptop–I’ve been getting better about being outside. Or at least I’m trying to be.

Frequently on the weekends, my husband says for me to pack a cooler and grab some diapers for our three-year-old, and off we go. Sometimes I grumble, if not to him, to myself. I’m not a spontaneous person, I like to have some time to plan things when possible. An hour to pack everything we’ll need for the rest of the day and it’s 11 AM? Yeah, doesn’t thrill me too much.

But, I like what it’s teaching my kids–to be flexible, roll with the punches, and most importantly, enjoy the outdoors (although, much of the time, all they’re enjoying at this age are movies in the car and an excessively long car ride.)

Father’s Day was one of these days. On the way to church, TMOTH made noises that he wanted to go fishing. So, I had about a two hour warning before we got home that this was on the plate. Get home, pack lunch, grab the diapers, head out. 

Then, what inevitably happens with us, “Where are we going?”

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

“It’s Father’s Day. You pick.”

“I don’t know where to go!”

A bluegill our daughter caught on Father’s Day

I sigh, make a few half-hearted suggestions. We stop and he retrieves the Gazeteer from the trunk. I start telling him directions. The kids watch “How to Train Your Dragon” for the 17th time in the last few weeks. The younger one naps. The dog is cramped, on the floor between the front and back seats of our mid-sized sedan.

We’re all wishing we had a Suburban, especially the dog.

Eventually, we find a spot we’ve been to before, a long, long time ago–maybe before the kids came around. TMOTH and our daughter fish.

Our daughter catches two small bluegill, TMOTH catches a small catfish and a small bluegill.

I keep our son from falling into the water, take pictures of dragonflies when I can get close enough to them without our son getting too close and scaring them off. We huddle down together after retrieving our hats from the car as light showers come across the lake and hit us head on. By the time we leave, my T-shirt is soaked from the rain.

I’m cold, haven’t had dinner, and am tired, but other than gently reminding my husband he neglected to get me something to eat when I couldn’t eat at Subway (I started a gluten-free diet last fall, so Subway is NOT on my menu,) I don’t say too much. I do adjust the thermostat in the car to something a little warmer, then help my husband figure out where the heck to go. We take a wrong turn or two (I’ve gotten turned around on where we are,) and I mark the Gazeteer in ink on where to go again, and scratch off roads shown on the map that aren’t roads.

It’s been a successful day overall. We made it home in one piece. The kids got to run around and fish. I took several pictures, none I’m thrilled with, but they’re okay. And more importantly, my husband got me out of the house. I’ve become quite a homebody the last couple years. Having your life center around the health and wellness of your immune-compromised son will do that to you.

Next up on our list of challenges–a possible weekend trip to a cabin, or maybe even in a tent.

I’m not sure I’m ready yet.

Until next time…

A Time to Say Goodbye

Yesterday, February 11, was a difficult day for me. I awoke earlier than normal, scarfed down some breakfast, badgered my kids out of bed before the sun was up, and hit the road before dawn.

Anyone who knows me knows this is abnormal. Heck, I’m writing this at 8:30 AM, and I’m still in my pajamas.

But, I had a very important reason to hit the road.

On Friday of last week, I learned that a friend from my grade school days had died. Killed in a murder/suicide, actually. Very hard words to absorb.

I hadn’t seen her in well over a decade, but she’d been on my mind for a few days leading up to this news. See, I’d had some personal turmoil last week, and in the midst of it, I remembered what a good friend she’d been to me all those years ago.

I first met her when I began taking piano lessons from her mother. Despite the fact I’d be taken out of the public school we both attended a few years later, I continued taking lessons from her mother until I was about 16.

We were in a combination class together the final year I was in public school, she in the lower grade, me in the upper. I’ve always been a little odd, and was not “in” with the other five girls in my grade level. Throughout the school year, I was constantly teased, but for the most part, ignored it. But my friend didn’t. She and a couple other girls in her class eventually came to me and said if I didn’t do something about what was going on, they would–and they did go to the teacher.

My grade-level classmates were called on the carpet for bullying me. But it wouldn’t have happened without Erin intervening.

This story was in my head a lot last week before she had even died, and I’d been about to ask a mutual friend of hers and mine about where she was and to try to get in touch with her when I learned the news.

So yesterday, instead of talking to her, I got to hug her mother as I said goodbye to a woman I wish I’d stayed in touch with. I was so glad to be reassured of how much she loved her family, her friends, and God.

Life can be full of regrets. This is one that I’ll definitely regret the rest of my life, that I didn’t stay in touch, or get in touch sooner.

Rest in peace, Erin. I know you are already missed, but those who loved you and appreciated you will see you again, one day, in Heaven.

Math Problems Run Amok

Being a writer, I’m not much of a math person. Sure, I can do basic stuff. But, algebra stumped me, and don’t even try to talk calculus to me. My eyes will glaze over.

Still, every time I fold socks in my house, and I don’t have anything going on so my mind wanders, I think of a math problem. A specific math problem. One from grade school.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was, or even the exact wording of the problem. I was probably in third or fourth grade. And the problem went something like this:

The power has gone out at Mike’s house and he has to get ready for school. He has no flashlight. He knows he has 10 red socks and 6 blue socks in his dresser drawer. What’s the likelihood he will choose two matching socks?

Even as a third or fourth grader, I remember thinking Mike was an idiot. Why would you not fold your socks so they were mated? Then you wouldn’t have problems like that if the power went out! Today, 20-odd years later, I think the writers for that textbook needed to get their heads screwed on straight.

Though, I do sometimes wonder if Mike made it to school with matching socks. 😉

How about you? Do you have something from your school days that sticks out in your head, that just won’t leave you alone years or even decades later?

Until next time,